I often read articles in the Press and smile. Again, a journalist has taken a PR feed from either CCC, Ecan, CDHB or Otakaro and printed it in the Press. Word for word. No analysis. No checking for alternative opinions.
The garrotting of local media by Facebook and Google has meant that there are too few journalists to do a decent job of analysing matters properly. Some articles are well researched, and the new owners of Stuff seem to be strengthening their reporting on some issues. However, in Christchurch civic reporting is weaker than desirable. I find the Star does more investigative reporting on civics than the Press. I feel for them as the Christchurch City Council has more reporters than the Press.
The bulk of journalists have ended up in PR, either within the confines of central or local government, or corporates or PR agencies. Some do an outstanding job. However, the role of the 4th Estate is severely watered down over reporting on, or analysing, local government. It is essential for the state of democracy for the media to be analysing decisions and commenting on them or inviting people who understand local government to comment. It’s not about tearing apart the decisions which have been made, because that’s not what I am promoting. Questions about decisions and how they were made. A good example would be how most of the elected reps at the council table caved into pressure over expanding the stadium to 30,000 seats. Who sat back and analysed the motivation of those who filled the council chamber pressurising our elected reps? Who crunched the numbers and asked, “is this affordable, at this level?” Who asked “will this stay within this budget?”
When I was an elected official there was a civics reporter in every newsroom. These generally gave you a hard time as they analysed the public policy we often struggled with. Those impacted by the decisions were interviewed, especially those who disagreed with what we were working on. This was helpful as every politician pours over the “Letters to the Editor “columns and items which write about matters of local concern.
I worry about institutions, both public and private, which hide what is really happening within their organisations. How only the good news is promoted, and journalists re-write the PR printouts because they don’t have the resources to do anything else. We need much greater openness, especially in local government, about the issues which are the difficult ones. It’s essential to seek greater involvement by the community on how exactly to confront matters which are often impossibly complex.
I’m about to start pouring through CCC reports because I don’t think the councillors have time to sit back and deliberate over what has been put in front of them. I’m sure some of this research will highlight areas which we will follow up in the Tuesday Club.
It’s time for the opening-up of decision making. The article below from Newsroom tackles the challenge facing the world as we face global warming and the forces which are attempting to deny their role in our planets critical state of health.
You can’t beat climate change without tackling disinformation: